Art Institute of Chicago has the greatest Impressionist collection outside of Paris.
The Art Institute of Chicago is the only Museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor for four years continuously.
It is the Number 1 thing to do in the Chicago.
In this article, we explain everything you must know before visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.
How to reach the Art Institute of Chicago?
Art Institute of Chicago has two doors for entry.
Entry to the original 1893 building is at 111 South Michigan Avenue.
You will find the entrance to the Modern Wing at 159 east Monroe Street.
111, S Michigan Avenue,
The museum stands one block East to the Loop, making it accessible via “L” train system.
You can also use the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple lines which stop above ground at Adams/Wabash which is one block West to the Museum.
The Red and Blue lines stop underground at Monroe, some blocks away.
You can also use Metra and reach Van Buren and Millennium stations and find your way to the museum.
Art Institute Chicago parking
Valet Parking service is available at the Modern Wing entrance from 10:30 am every day at 28 dollars per car.
However, if you prefer to park yourself, you have several parking options.
Nearby public garages
You can find several underground garages near the museum.
1. East Monroe Street and Millennium Park Garages
Entrance at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street
2. Grant Park South Garage
Find entrance at Michigan Avenue between Van Buren and Adams streets
3. Grant Park North Garage
The entry is at Michigan Avenue between Madison and Randolph streets.
Art Institute of Chicago hours
The museum stays open daily from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.
On Thursday, the Art Museum is open till 8 pm.
The Museum and its shops stay closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Best time to visit
The Art Institute of Chicago is so massive that it can accommodate a lot of people without making it feel crowded.
However, if you prefer to walk and explore the artworks in peace, the best time to visit Art Institute of Chicago is between 12 pm to 3 pm, on weekdays.
Art Institute of Chicago free day
If you are an Illinois resident, the best time for you to visit is Thursday, between 5 pm to 8 pm.
Every week, for these three hours locals can get in without buying any admission tickets.
However, they must display a valid resident ID proof at the entrance.
If you do not have a ID card issued by the State, you can bring along your lease agreement, bill, or some mail which shows your name and has your Illinois address.
While the Illinois residents enjoy their free day on Thursdays, some section of the visitors can enter for free all through the year.
Kids under 14
Children under fourteen years of age can enter for free, every day.
Is it always free for local teens?
Teenage visitors (age 14 to 17 years) needn’t buy a ticket as long as they can present a valid ID proof at the entrance.
Free with Bank of America card
You can get a free visit on the first full weekend of each month with Bank of America credit card.
How long does Art Institute of Chicago take?
You will need at least 3-4 hours to explore the Art Institute to the fullest.
Those who love art, are known to spend even six hours at the Museum.
If you plan to stay longer, we recommend regular visits to the restaurants/cafés to recharge yourself (and to avoid art fatigue).
Art Museum highlights
If you are in a hurry, it is possible to explore the masterpieces of the Museum in only one hour.
Here are the exhibits you can see within 60 minutes.
- Ando Gallery, Gallery 109 (First Floor)
- El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin, Gallery 211 (Second Floor)
- Armor for Man and Horse, Gallery 239 (Second Floor)
- Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, Gallery 240 (Second Floor)
- Claude Monet’s Stacks of Wheat, Gallery 243 (Second Floor)
- Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky above Clouds IV, Gallery 249 (Second Floor)
- Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Gallery 262 (Second Floor)
- Archibald John Motley, Jr.’s Nightlife, Gallery 263 (Second Floor)
- Marc Chagall’s America Windows, Gallery 144 (First Floor)
- Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Gallery 391 (Third Floor)
- Joan Mitchell’s City Landscape, Gallery 291 (Second Floor)
- Andy Warhol’s Liz #3, Gallery 296 (Second Floor)
If you get in through the Michigan Avenue entrance start from No 1 and finish at 12.
If you get in through the Modern Wing entrance, start at No 12 and work backward.
You can use the numbers mentioned to find the artwork on the floor.
Art Institute of Chicago tickets
With this skip the line ticket, you can avoid waiting in the long lines at the ticket counter and the entrance and get to the art galleries right away.
No print outs needed. At the entrance of the Museum, just show the email you receive after the purchase of the ticket and walk in.
With this Art Institute of Chicago ticket, you can also join the free guided tour which starts at noon.
For a full refund, cancel this ticket at least 24 hours before your planned visit.
Adult ticket (14 to 64 years): 35 USD
Seniors ticket (65 to 99 years): 29 USD
Child ticket (0 to 13 years): Free entry
Art Institute of Chicago artworks
The exhibits at this Museum can be broadly categorized as paintings & other artworks.
Famous paintings at Art Institute of Chicago
The Museum’s walls are lined with art from around the world.
Each painting is equally enchanting and captures the attention of the visitors.
However, if one must identify the best of the lot, here is our recommendation –
1. The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh painted three versions of The Bedroom which is a colorful representation of his life.
The original is housed in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2. A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat
“Little drops make the mighty ocean.”
In here, little dots made a mighty artwork.
This large painting uses the pointillist technique to depict a casual scene of French riverside.
3. Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
Nighthawks is one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th century.
The painting shows an all-night diner with customers and employees in a secluded setting of NYC.
4. American Gothic by Grant Wood
This painting represents the shift from farming to industrialization in America in the 1930s.
The painting depicts an expressive farmer standing beside his sister.
5. Water Lilies by Claude Monet
The Art Institute of Chicago holds a special delegation of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series.
These 250 paintings were completed in the last 30 years of his life.
The range depicts exquisite flowers from his French home.
6. Child’s bath by Mary Cassatt
This three-dimensional painting shows a child being bathed by an adult.
This painting came by at the end of the 19th century making her the only American artist in the exhibition of French Impressionists.
Other must-see masterpieces
Besides the paintings here are many other masterpieces you must not miss during your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.
We list a few –
1. The Thorn Miniature Rooms
This dollhouse is built by fine craftsmen with interesting detail.
Kids are left awestruck with this reproduction of 17th and 20th-century palaces, cathedrals and residences.
2. The Modern Wing
The most recent addition to the museum is an outstanding example of architecture.
The European Modernism gallery holds artworks by Picasso, Dali and many more with rotating film exhibits.
3. American Windows by Marc Chagall
This blue-tinted recently restored window has a history of leaving the visitors speechless.
4. Field armor for man and horse
The armors displayed both for man and horse were produced in Nuremberg, Germany in the 16th century.
The dynamic action form of this piece of art has wowed one and all.
5. Buddha Shakyamuni seated in meditation
The statue comes from a South Indian town, Nagapattinam and dates to the 12th century.
Buddha is seated in lotus posture with a calming face. You can also spot the mark on his forehead called ‘urna.’
Star painters at the Art Institute
The Art Institute of Chicago is full of paintings from renowned artists from around the World, and across different eras.
However, paintings by two painters’ get a lot of attention from the visitors.
Van Gogh at Art Institute of Chicago
There is a total of 17 artworks by Van Gogh displayed in the museum.
The most important being –
1. The Bedroom (1889)
2. Self-Portrait (1887)
3. The Poet’s Garden (1888)
4. Madame Roulin Rocking the Cradle (1889)
5. The Drinkers (1890)
Claude Monet at Art Institute of Chicago
There is a total of 46 artworks by Claude Monet presented in the museum.
His top five crowd-pullers are –
1. Stacks of Wheat (189/91)
2. Water Lilies (1906)
3. Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877)
4. The Beach at Saints- Adresse (1867)
5. Cliff Walk at Pourville (1882)
Art Institute of Chicago map
At Art Institute of Chicago, exhibits are spread over total floor space of one million square feet!
For a first-time visitor, its sheer size can be overwhelming.
That’s why we recommend carrying a museum map with you while you roam around.
Besides helping you find the masterpieces, this map can also help you find visitor services such as restrooms, cafes, escalators, Museum shop, ramps, etc.
Bookmark this page to get back later, or download the map here (pdf).
Art Institute of Chicago Audio Guide
You can rent this Art Museum’s audio guide at two places – Michigan Avenue and the Modern Wing.
You must pay 7 dollars per person, to keep the audio guide with you till your tour of the Museum is over.
It is available in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.
These devices are free for visually impaired visitors.
Art Institute of Chicago application
If you don’t want to spend money on the Museum’s audio guide, the next best option is to download their mobile app.
The app uses location-aware technology with audio storytelling, and it seems as if the art itself is speaking to you.
If you plan to stay longer at the Art Museum, you must recharge yourself at regular intervals.
Or better still, before entering the Museum, you can try out the many eat outs nearby.
Restaurants at the Art Institute
The Art Museum has three unique places to eat.
1. Museum Café
Opens daily from 11 am to 4 pm. On Thursday evenings, it stays open from 5 pm to 7:30 p.
2. Terzo Piano
You can get daily lunch from 11 am to 3 pm. On Thursday you can get dinner too, from 5 pm to 8 pm. The place also offers Sunday brunches from 11 am to 3 pm.
3. Balcony Café
The café opens daily from 10:30 pm to 4:30 pm. On Thursdays, to accommodate the extra crowd it stays open till 7 pm.
Restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago
If you want a quick eat, head out to Roti Mediterranean Grill, The Fat Shallot or Le Pain Quotidien.
It is natural to expect bang for the buck when you are traveling with a big family or group.
In such a case, we recommend the value for money restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago such as Goddess and The Baker, Oasis Café or Shake Shack.
For a comfortable sit-down-and-eat experience after all the walking, check out Brightwok Kitchen, Italian Village, or Revival Foodhall.